Women, unions, minorities carry Obama to Nevada victory

President Barack Obama before his acceptance speech Tuesday night (Getty Images).

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – President Barack Obama owes his victory in Nevada to three groups: women, labor unions, and minorities, particularly Latinos.

Exit polls showed that Obama won the state’s six electoral votes largely on the support of these groups, even though Nevada’s economy improved just slightly since the housing bubble burst more than four years ago.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said that with 100 percent of the  precincts reporting, Obama had 529,005 or 52.30 percent, while his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, garnered 462,607 votes or 45.73 percent.

It was closer than the 120,000-vote win over John McCain in 2008, but a comfortable victory nevertheless after political observers predicted a race that could go either way.

In a poll commissioned by the Associated Press and reported by timesunion.com, Obama was buoyed by a huge showing from union Democrats in Las Vegas and Latinos.

They voted for Obama by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. He also had a significant advantage among women statewide, including a 2-to-1 margin with women under age 30.

This reflected a national trend in which nearly 70 percent of Latinos voted for Obama, and unmarried women by more than 60 percent.

The Associated Press and the television networks commissioned Edison Research in a random statewide sample of 4,141 voters.

This included preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 47 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 1,104 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4.

Timesunion.com reported that results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and higher for subgroups.

The poll showed Romney did better than McCain had among minorities in general. The one-third of Nevada voters who are independents or third-party members also sided with Romney after preferring Obama last time.

Romney fought Obama neck-and-neck in Reno’s traditionally-GOP leaning Washoe County, but the president eventually won by more than 6,000 votes.

With an advantage of nearly 100,000 votes in heavily Democratic Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, President Obama easily won the state.

According to the exit polls, Nevada voters blamed former president George W. Bush for the state economic woes than Obama. Also, they said there was not much difference between Obama and Romney in handling the economy.

Citing the economy as their top concern far more often than health care, the federal deficit or foreign policy, nearly three-fourths of Nevada voters surveyed described the U.S. economic condition as “poor” or “not so good.”

But about 4 out of 10 think the economy is getting better. Three out of 10 think it’s getting worse and a similar number think it’s about the same, timesunion.com reported.

“For me, the economy is better,” said Robert Kerr, 38, a preschool teacher in Henderson who voted for Obama. “Belts are loosening, the jobs are there.”

About 4 in 10 Nevada voters said their own family’s financial situation is worse today than it was four years ago, but about a quarter said they are in better shape and the rest about the same.

“I think it’s at about a standstill, actually,” said Jodi Carness, 40, an Obama backer who works at a marketing firm in Las Vegas. “I have a job, and I actually don’t know a lot of people who don’t have a job, but just based on inflation, I just feel like it will get better. We’re not there yet.”

Both candidates had poured tens of millions of dollars into Nevada to blanket the airwaves with ads, as the state became the most saturated in the nation, timesunion.com reported.

With the results, Nevada maintained its reputation as the nation’s best bellwether over the past century, having voted for the candidate that wins the White House in 25 of the last 26 elections dating to 1912 — the lone exception when Jimmy Carter won in 1976.

Follow Bert Eljera @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera

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